by Freddy J. Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango + Member of Too Many Social Networks…
Apparently, the leading social networks have given up on innovation. Now they just gaze covetously at each other’s “best practices.” And on some late nights, fueled by too many cans of Red Bull and 180-proof insecurity, they surge right past the coveting stage straight to idea theft. Hence…
- Facebook has copied Twitter’s hashtags, trends, and news-centric stream.
- Twitter has given more exposure to photos and videos, enabled photo tagging, and made Twitter profile pages more Facebook like.
And they’re just getting started putting the “too” in Web 2.0…
Like spouses who have spent years together, the two mega-networks look increasingly alike. And given two conducive factors — Twitter’s struggles (flattening growth, anemic revenue model), and Facebook not knowing what to do with all its money — it won’t be long before Facebook buys out its rival and merges the two platforms into one called Fatter.
But let’s not forget that other Web 2.0 mega-net, LinkedIn. Remember when professionals could go to LinkedIn to escape the frivolousness of Twitter and Facebook and focus on business? Then LinkedIn decided to become a “content destination” — just like Facebook and Twitter. Consequently, today the LinkedIn wall features all this delirious inanity:
- faux profundity and outright drivel from so-called gurus (recent example: “What We Can All Learn from Matthew McConaughey” — yes, that’s an actual story, and no, I won’t link to it)
- “inspirational” photos lifted from the walls of Midwestern insurance firms
- games and puzzles (sorry, no Farmville… yet)
- and things that people “liked” even if they have no relevance to you (“your friend just liked the new profile photo of someone you don’t know”)
So here’s my next vision — oops, sorry, people in Silicon Valley don’t understand the “v-word.” Instead, here’s my extrapolated 5-year projection…
Fatter: The Next Generation
Seeing that the cool kids have hooked up to form Fatter, LinkedIn begs to join in, and Fatter becomes FattankedIn.
Then Mark Zuckerberg realizes that the “In” from LinkedIn matches the “In” of his subsidiary Instagram. Since that’s as good a reason as any he’s ever had to make a major business decision, Zuckerberg throws his photo sharing site into the mix, forming FattankedInstagram. Since he also spent $19 billion on an app — and wants to convince everyone that there was a sensible reason for doing that, really — he tacks on WhatsApp to create FattankedInstaWhat.
But Zuckerberg still feels like something is missing: an actual productivity tool for social media. What a concept! So instead of bailing out Greece, as he was originally planning to do (“think of how I could redecorate the Acropolis”), Zuckerberg spends the $400 billion to buy Evernote and create FattankedInstaWhatEver. Or as the inebriated techies at SXSW call it, Fatter+.
Google quickly sues Fatter+, claiming it owns all usage of the + sign. But Google loses the case, so to prove that it’s even better than everyone else everywhere ever at everything, it changes the name of Google+ to GoogleDouble+Good. The heavy users of Google+ protest, but their cab gets lost on the way to the courthouse.
Meanwhile, a young child in Micronesia creates a social network where everyone just looks blankly at each other and says nothing. It doesn’t even have a name. And it’s a monstrous hit, causing a mass exodus from Fatter+, which collapses in a reprise of the first dotcom collapse. How derivative.
The remaining Fatter+ assets are purchased for twenty bucks on eBay by a gambling site in need of a publicity stunt. Yes, at the rate social networks are going, we’ll soon find the remnants in a display case next to a grilled cheese sandwich bearing the image of the Virgin Mary. The only difference is that the sandwich has actual substance.